Can­celled flights could cost Ryanair mil­lions in com­pen­sa­tion

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - - News - Mark O’Re­gan

RYANAIR faces the threat of a mas­sive com­pen­sa­tion bill fol­low­ing its shock de­ci­sion to can­cel up to 50 flights a day for the next six weeks.

The bud­get air­line an­nounced on Fri­day that it would can­cel between 40 and 50 flights daily up un­til Oc­to­ber, as it moves to re­duce a back­log of hol­i­days for staff.

Their web­site has de­tailed all the flights which are can­celled for to­day, with eight flights to and from Dublin in­cluded in the list.

Flights from Dublin to Am- ster­dam, Nantes, Frank­furt and San­tander are among those can­celled.

The Dublin-based car­rier in­sists it will of­fer re­funds or al­ter­na­tive flight op­tions to the “small num­ber” of af­fected pas­sen­gers. How­ever, it is be­lieved the move could af­fect up to 250,000 pas­sen­gers.

Un­der EU law, thou­sands of pas­sen­gers may be en­ti­tled to €250 com­pen­sa­tion if the dis­tance of their can­celled flight was 1,500km or less.

The Com­mis­sion for Avi­a­tion Reg­u­la­tion stressed that af­fected pas­sen­gers should be aware of their rights.

It said com­pen­sa­tion in the event of a can­cel­la­tion de­pended on the dis­tance of the flight, and the rea­son for the can­cel­la­tion.

It also de­pends on the ‘no­tice pe­riod’ given by the air­line. If a car­rier can prove that the can­cel­la­tion was caused by an ex­tra­or­di­nary cir­cum­stance, which could not have been avoided even if all rea­son­able mea­sures were taken, no com­pen­sa­tion is payable.

Ex­am­ples of ex­tra­or­di­nary cir­cum­stances may in­clude weather con­di­tions, air traf­fic con­trol re­stric­tions, se­cu­rity risks and in­dus­trial dis­putes that af­fect the op­er­a­tion of a sched­ule.

The Ir­ish Travel Agents As­so­ci­a­tion (ITAA) said it was deeply con­cerned over the can­cel­la­tions at such short no­tice.

Speak­ing to the Sun­day In­de­pen­dent, ITAA pres­i­dent Cor­mac Mee­han said the com­pen­sa­tion bill was likely to run into mil­lions of euro.

He said that given the dom­i­nant po­si­tion of Ryanair in the Ir­ish avi­a­tion mar­ket, the move would cause “se­vere prob­lems” for thou­sands of pas­sen­gers.

“For many, hol­i­day plans have been ru­ined by this ac­tion where the op­tion to change ac­com­mo­da­tion is not pos­si­ble, or can only be done at a sig­nif­i­cant cost,” he said.

“Ryanair’s ac­tions will also have a con­sid­er­able im­pact on route sched­ules in­ter­na­tion­ally, where many trav­ellers are de­pen­dent on their Ryanair flight to con­nect to on­ward in­ter­na­tional flights.

The air­line in­sisted that less than 2pc of its flights would be can­celled and the move would help it hit its an­nual punc­tu­al­ity tar­get of 90pc.

It is ad­vis­ing cus­tomers that their flights will op­er­ate as sched­uled un­less they re­ceive a can­cel­la­tion email.

Ryanair’s Robin Kiely said: “By can­celling less than 2pc of our fly­ing pro­gramme over the next six weeks — un­til our win­ter sched­ule starts in early Novem­ber — we can im­prove the op­er­a­tional re­silience of our sched­ules, and re­store punc­tu­al­ity to our an­nu­alised tar­get of 90pc.

“We apol­o­gise sin­cerely to the small num­ber of cus­tomers af­fected by these can­cel­la­tions, and will be do­ing our ut­most to ar­range al­ter­na­tive flights and/or full re­funds.”

APOL­OGY: Robin Kiely said less than 2pc of flights would be hit

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